The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World


Diya Poojary, Journalist


Did you know that the idea of the seven wonders dates back to the 5th century B.C.? The list was created by Hellenic travelers who passed through Southern Europe and the Egyptian lands, although the Antipater of Sidon, who wrote 300 years later, is credited with making these places famous by describing them in his poems.

However, most of them were destroyed as a result of unfortunate events that lead many historians to debate whether they existed or not.

Below is the list of the ancient seven wonders.


#1 – Pyramids of Giza:

This trio of huge pyramids is located in Giza on the west bank of the Nile river, to the north of Cairo in Egypt. Among the seven places on the list, the Pyramids of Giza are the only wonder that has survived to this day. Of the three pyramids, the largest and most impressive is Khufu. Covering 13 acres, it is believed to have been built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu. Amazingly, these pyramids were made of stone blocks weighing from around 2 to 300 tons and were put in place without the aid of any tools. For more than 4,000 years, the pyramids remained as the tallest buildings in the ancient world, surprisingly until around the 19th century CE.


#2 – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon:

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are believed to be the masterpiece of the ancient metropolis of Babylon. The gardens rested on brick terraces laid out in the form of steps, in the frontier of the royal palace. Legend has it said that King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled in the 7th century B.C., built the Hanging Gardens to recreate the mountains that his wife was accustomed to from her homeland of Medina. Historians still wonder how the garden was watered. Though some accounts and stories mention the Hanging Gardens, none of them are firsthand, resulting in historians debating if they ever existed at all.


#3 – Statue of Zeus, Olympia:

The Statue of Zeus in Olympia was built by the Athenian sculptor Phidias. The sculpture replicates Zeus, the King of the Gods in Greek mythology. It was constructed wholly out of ivory and gold and was placed in the Temple of Zeus, overlooking the ancient site of the Olympics. The statue was marveled at by travelers for its realistic details such as the wrinkles in the cloth and the intricate designs of the crown, the throne, and the spear held by Zeus. It remained in the temple for eight centuries before being moved to a palace in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey), when the Christian priests insisted the Roman emperor for it to be removed. There it was later destroyed in a fire in A.D. 462.


#4 – The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

There was more than one temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. Many temples dedicated to Roman and Greek gods and goddesses were built, destroyed, and restored in the same spot over many years. This temple was built around 550 BCE, by the Cretan architect Cherisphoron at Ephesus, the Greek-port city near modern-day Turkey. The Antipater of Sidon described the temple as one of the most majestic places, apart from Olympus itself. The frontier of the building was adorned with intricate and realistic bronze statues. Legend has it that it was destroyed on July 21, 356 BCE, on the same day as the birth of Alexander the Great, by a man called Herostratus, who simply reasoned to do this so that his name was known throughout history. He was executed and it became illegal to speak of him.


#5 – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus:

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was known for its stunning beauty. It was built as a tomb by Artemisia for her husband, the Persian king, Mausollos of Caria, hence the word mausoleum derived. It was exceptional for its massive structure, with a base of 120,000 sq. ft and height of 140 ft. Almost 1600 years after its construction, it was destroyed by an earthquake and later, in the early 15 century, invaders used what remained of it for the fortification of a castle that still stands today.


#6 – The Colossus of Rhodes:

Did you know that the construction of the Statue of Liberty, New York was inspired by that of the Colossus of Rhodes?

This enormous bronze sculpture was added to the list of ancient wonders almost a century after its destruction. The statue depicted the Sun god Helios, who overlooked the early harbor of the Greek Island of Rhodes. Standing over a hundred feet tall, it took nearly 12 years to build and stood for another 6 decades until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 238 BC. It was never rebuilt. Despite being in ruins, people still marveled at it for over a century, until its remains were sold by Arab invaders. 


#7: The Lighthouse of Alexandria, Pharos:

The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built on the coast of the ancient city Pharos, near the Egyptian city of Alexandria. It was built of large stone blocks and at its full height was nearly 400 feet tall, one of the largest built by man at that time. It was initially built as a landmark to help sailors and travelers navigate the city, but later, the Romans used it as a lighthouse by lighting a fire at night, and using a reflecting mirror against the sun during the day, to guide sailors in and out of the city. It was destroyed in a series of earthquakes from A.D.956 to 1323.


Although these Seven Wonders are still celebrated today, they show the fleeting nature of even the grandest physical achievements—nature, human behavior, and the passage of time.